August 26-28, 2021 marked the return of Webb School of Knoxville's Spartan Alumni Weekend, and with it, the annual alumni tailgate, class reunion gatherings, and the opportunity to recognize and celebrate Spartan alumni who exemplify outstanding achievement in their careers and in their communities, and who serve as an inspiration for current Webb students.
This year’s Alumni Weekend kicked off with the recognition of Webb’s Distinguished Alumnus/na Award recipient for 2021, Susan Buonocore Zaunbrecher ’77. Considered as one of the highest honors bestowed upon a member of the school’s alumni community, the annual Distinguished Alumnus/na Award is presented to a Spartan alumnus/na whose business or professional accomplishments and service to others exemplify the goals of Webb School in the spirit of its motto, Principes Non Homines - Leaders Not Men. Zaunbrecher, Executive Vice President and the Chief Legal Officer of Fifth Third Bancorp and Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio, returned to campus, August 26, to receive her award and to speak with Lower and Middle School students at their morning assemblies, and later with the Upper School during Chapel.
On August 28, Webb hosted a luncheon to celebrate 12 Spartan alumni as recipients of this year’s Alumni Achievement Award. This award is presented annually to those Webb graduates who have distinguished themselves in their respective careers and have achieved outstanding success in their chosen professions while upholding the mission of Webb School. Nominated by their classmates and representing the reunion classes of 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016, the following alumni were honored:
- Maribel Koella ’66, Director and Principal Broker of NAI Koella | RM Moore
- Jeff McCrory ’71, Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Knoxville & Senior Associate for Soul Shepherding
- Sallee Reynolds ’76, Supervisor of Secondary Education for Knox County Schools
- Derek Kirk ’81, Founder/President of The Restaurant Nerd & Founder of soulPhoodie
- Greg Hagood ’86 & Frank Majors ’86, Co-Founders of Nephila Capital Ltd.
- Carla Ainsworth ’91, Care Team Medical Director at Iora Primary Care & Clinical Faculty Member at University of Washington School of Medicine/Kenyon College Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee
- Ellery Foutch ’96, Assistant Professor at Middlebury College, with a Pedagogical/Scholarly Research Concentration in Art and Material Culture of the United States
- Brad Smith ’01, Founder and CEO of Russell Street Ventures & CEO of Main Street Health/Former Co-Founder and CEO of Aspire Health
- Matthew Cross ’06, Founding Partner and CEO of OE Experiences
- Taylor Cao ’11, Science Teacher at St. George’s Independent School/Incoming Director of Student Life at St. George’s
- Ariel Gale ’16, Graduate Student at Emory University, with Research Interests in High Pressure Quantum Chemistry Methods and Calculating Redox Potentials of Organic and Organometallic Molecules
The above descriptions only scratch the surface of what this year’s Alumni Achievement Award winners have accomplished. Click HERE to learn more.
During Saturday’s luncheon, Webb School President Michael McBrien provided the award winners and guests with an update on Webb’s strategic plan and its commitment to providing students a personalized and tailored educational experience while equipping them with a global perspective and an entrepreneurial mindset. He noted the recent hiring of Brandon Bruce to head up Webb’s entrepreneurial program, which includes courses that incorporate Harvard Business School case studies and a planned capstone experience. Bruce is chair of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, co-founder of Startup Knox, and a lead partner in the 100Knoxville initiative. McBrien also described the latest campus construction projects, including an inviting “front door” to the school’s Central Building, with new admissions, administrative and student collaboration spaces; the Middle School Innovation Center, housing a vibrant, spacious library, state-of-the-art science lab, Innovation Lab, and robotics and broadcasting studios; and added spaces to Webb’s Upper School, offering a research library, learning resource center, writing center, café, and a one-of-a-kind visualization lab.
Despite the uncertainly of the past 18-plus months due to the pandemic, Webb School continued to rank among the top schools, locally, statewide and nationally, McBrien said during his remarks. According to Niche.com, Webb placed in the top 12 percent of Best Private K-12 Schools in America and Best College Prep Private High School for 2021. In addition, Webb again took the No. 1 slot in Knox County for Best College Prep Private High School, Best High School for STEM, Best Private High School, and Best Private K-12 School. Webb also ranked #1 for Best High School for Athletes in Knox County and earned a No. 6 distinction for Best Private K-12 School in Tennessee.
“We have these rankings due to the incredible faculty and staff of this school, along with the driven students we have who constantly challenge themselves to be their best,” McBrien continued. “But we also have these rankings due to the accomplishments of our alumni. It is our alumni who really tell the story of the value of Webb School. Today, we thank all of our alumni, with a special thanks to our Alumni Achievement Award recipients, for all that you are doing locally, nationally and internationally to show the world the true value and meaning of a Webb School of Knoxville education.”